MariaOrtega, 15, and her son, Miguel, decorate sugar cookies on Feb. 12 at a meetingfor teenage parents participating in the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers Program.In Tahlequah, Okla. (Photo by Christina Good Voice)
Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Schools offer new Head Start
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Public Schools are partnering to offer an Early Head Start class for children of teen parents attending Tahlequah High School. The class is set to begin this spring at THS.
The class will care for nearly 50 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 3 years. THS will provide the on-campus facility, while the tribe will provide staff and other necessities.
The facility will be located in the same building as the Tahlequah Central Academy, an alternative education program where many teen parents attend classes.
“Tahlequah Public Schools is excited to be partnering with the Cherokee Nation Head Start to expand their program to serve our students who are teen parents,” said TPS Assistant Superintendent Billie Jordan. “We have recognized the need for this program for years and have searched for ways to provide this service so that teen parents can attend school and at the same time learn hands-on parenting skills while their babies receive quality child care.”
Laura Baltazar, 19, said she’s excited the class is nearly open because it would give her peace of mind knowing her children, 3-year-old Elder and 7-month-old Eyzel, would be cared for.
“It’ll be easier because they’ll just be right there,” she said.
Bethany McDonald, who is with the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers at Central Academy, said the class would also allow parents to ease their minds about paying for daycare.
Baltazar said she pays $400 a month for daycare, but with the class she can start saving that money.
“This will help save a lot of money,” she said. “A lot of young moms, we want to come to school but we have our babies.”
McDonald, who works daily with the teen parents on parenting skills, said she sees the class as removing an obstacle to their learning.
“I see a great way for our (OPAT) program to partner with the Head Start,” she said. “I see it merging so well. We’re going to be able to have better access to our teen moms. They’re going to be right here.”
Some teen moms said the class would also help them be able to concentrate more on school if they know their babies are in good hands. Maria Ortega, 15, said she’ll be able to focus better once the Head Start opens because her 10-month-old son Miguel will down the hall.
“It’s going to be easier,” she said. “He’ll be closer to me.”
Principal Chief Chad Smith said the CN created the program to be a good partner in the community, to keep teenage parents in school to finish their educations and get the fathers of the children involved in the children’s lives.
“Through establishing this partnership with the school, we can help provide a way for the students to continue their education, which in turn will help the community,” he said.
Tribal and school officials agreed that students have a better chance of attending college or another form of post-secondary education upon graduation from high school.
Doing so will help the students better provide for their family later, Jordan said.
“There is so much research showing what an effective program it is anyway and how well those babies do in school,” she said. “If we want to talk about really overcoming poverty, Head Start is a great way.”
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The RiverHawk Food Pantry, a 132-square-foot building that holds an average of 10,000 pounds of non-perishable food items and personal hygiene products, is now in its second year of operation.
RiverHawk Food Pantry overseer Helen Lahrman said the pantry has been a huge asset to those in need in the Northeastern State University community.
An NSU press release states the goods are available to current NSU students at two pantry locations. One is in the basement of the University Center at the Tahlequah campus, while the other is in Suite 211 of the Administrative Services Building at the Broken Arrow campus.
Locations are open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesdays and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. There are also donation drop-off locations on the Tahlequah and Broken Arrow campuses.
During the pantry’s first year of operation it served 170 families, 345 individuals and averaged aiding 40 people weekly.
Lahrman said although stocks were sufficient in 2014, having extra products and a fund to purchase items would help the pantry.
According to the release, items most needed include peanut butter, noodles, rice, canned fruit, canned meats, pre-packaged items, mixed vegetables, personal hygiene items, laundry soap, household cleaning items and paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels and tissues.
To view the RiverHawk Food Pantry donation site, visit <a href="http://bit.ly/1OaGatH" target="_blank">http://bit.ly/1OaGatH</a>.
For more information, call Lahrman at 918-444-2644 or email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Head Start programs are accepting applications for children from infants through pre-school age for the upcoming academic school year.
The tribe’s Early Childhood Unit is comprised of Head Start and Early Head Start, child development programs that focus on social development, kindergarten readiness, motor skills and incorporates Cherokee culture and language.
CN Early Childhood Unit reserves at least 10 percent of its available slots for children with special needs.
Applications are available at any of the programs’ 17 locations or mailed by request from the ECU office in Tahlequah.
Applications remain in the system for one year. They are accepted year round. Other documents requested include a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood card, immunization records, a birth certificate and current verification of income. Income guidelines apply.
Completed applications are to be mailed back to the Tahlequah office, PO Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465.
For more information or to find the nearest classroom, call 918-453-5757 or 1-888-458-4393.
FLORENCE, Ala. – Education students from the University of North Alabama will travel to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, in September on a domestic study abroad trip to spend four days immersed in the Cherokee culture.
The 20 students’ vans will purposefully follow the Trail of Tears route that many Native Americans were forced to walk after the passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
United Keetoowah Band citizens and UNA education assistant professor Gary Padgett will supervise the trip, which coincides with the Cherokee National Holiday.
“The diversity experience is something all education majors have to have,” Padgett said. “This is a little more authentic and a little more local being just a nine-hour trip.”
The students will visit sites such as the Cherokee Heritage Center, as well as learn about Cherokee games and traditions.
The class is fundraising for the trip and hopes to raise $5,000 to cover costs. Donations can be made directly to UNA and sent to the program or at GoFundMe by clicking: <a href="http://www.gofundme.com/wa2jv4c4" target="_blank">www.gofundme.com/wa2jv4c4</a>.
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) – The Cherokee Humanities Course, sponsored by the Cherokee Heritage Center, is taking applications for the fall academic semester at Northeastern State University.
The three credit hour course is based on the belief that by studying the humanities, individuals can develop significant skills that empower them to work effectively toward improving their own lives and those of their families and communities.
The course also removes obstacles that impeded access to higher education by providing tuition, books, child care and transportation at no cost to qualified students. The deadline for applications is Aug. 10.
For more than 14 years, the CHC has provided hundreds of non-traditional students the opportunity of a higher-level education by creating a curriculum in Cherokee history, language and culture.
A grant from the Inasmuch Foundation has made it possible for the CHC to support the tuition cost for students to take the course for college credit. Students may take the course in the fall and spring semesters for a total of six college credit hours in Indian studies.
The course intends to create a bridge to higher education by developing the skills, confidence and motivation necessary to succeed.
Priority is given to students not currently enrolled in a university or those considering returning to college. Those qualifying can also receive incentives such as mileage and child care reimbursements.
The class is designed to bring to light ideas and experiences that have remained quieted in general history books. The course creates a collaborative learning environment in which personal experiences and oral traditions are respected. These classes are interdisciplinary, college-level humanities courses offering credit hours through NSU.
The Cherokee Humanities Course was established by the late Dr. Howard Meredith, former professor and head of the American Indian Studies degree program at the University of Science and Arts. The course replicates the original Clemente course offered in New York City by academic scholar Dr. Earl Shorris in 1995.
For more information about the Cherokee Humanities Course, call Tonia Weavel at 918-456-6007 or email <a href="mailto: email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org</a>.
The CHC is the premier cultural center for Cherokee history, culture and the arts. For information on 2015 season events, operating hours and programs, call 1-888-999-6007 or visit <a href="http://www.CherokeeHeritage.org" target="_blank">www.CherokeeHeritage.org</a>. It can also be found on Facebook by searching “Cherokee Heritage Center.”
FORT GIBSON, Okla. (AP) – Among the events most interwoven into the history of Tahlequah is the Cherokee Trail of Tears.
Despite the towering relevance of the Trail to Tahlequah, Park Hill and numerous other communities in Northeastern Oklahoma, misperceptions have arisen during the past couple of centuries, and they persist. Furthermore, the Cherokees were not the only people forcibly moved to Indian Territory, and some American Indians relocated voluntarily.
On July 15, the Oklahoma Historical Society kicked off its Indian Removal Teachers’ Institute at the Fort Gibson Historical Site. It concluded on July 17 with visits to the Murrell Home and Cherokee Heritage Center in Park Hill.
“In previous years, we’ve been covering the Civil War since it was the sesquicentennial,” David Fowler, OHS historical site director, said. “We polled the teachers to ask what they wanted, and they said they would like to understand the Indian Removal a little better.”
Enrollment included 20 Oklahoma teachers. Among the participants was Jerry Johnston, a teacher at Longfellow Middle School in Enid and member of the OHS, who descended from multiple tribal lineages.
“I had ancestors on the Trail of Tears on both sides – guards and displaced people,” Johnston said. “I thought traveling in the winter was part of the punishment, but it was easier to travel in the winter. Otherwise, they would have dealt with muddy roads, storms, and even more disease.”
Jennifer Crumby, a second grade teacher at Shiloh Christian School, was also in attendance.
“I love history, so I thought I would come here,” Crumby said. “I actually just got back from vacation, and we took a round-trip that included Kentucky, Tennessee and Florida, and I actually saw some of the place marked on the (Indian removal) trail maps. It was interesting to pull all of that together.”
Fort Gibson was often the first stop for American Indians when they arrived in the territory.
“One mission of Fort Gibson was supposedly to keep the arriving tribes from fighting with each other,” Omar Reed, historical interpreter for the Fort Gibson Historical Site, said. “They were also supposed to remove white settlers in the territory, and survey and establish the boundaries for each nation.”
There was less friction between the southeastern Indians than with nomadic tribes that traversed to the west, and the Osage. The 1817 Battle of Claremore Mound was not forgotten, and Reed noted that “the Cherokees and Osage didn’t get along very well.” Political turmoil sometimes preceded intra-tribal violence.
From 1837 until the Civil War, boundaries were surveyed, usually by the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers or under Army escort.
Amanda Pritchett and Jennifer Frazee, OHS historical interpreters at the Murrell Home, organized the Indian Removal Teachers’ Institute with Fowler.
“This workshop explains how to teach the Indian Removal in classrooms,” Pritchett said. “We visit places associated with all five (civilized) tribes’ Trails of Tears and there are classroom sessions.”
Pritchett said each day has a different emphasis. On July 15 the focus was the removal, but on July 17 the session stressed “rebuilding and recovery.”
The OHS also wants to remind educators about the historical sites.
“We want them to know what our different sites can offer their students in the classroom,” Pritchett said. “They can also come out for field trips, and we can arrange hands-on educational activities.”
Pritchett said there were some common misconceptions about the removals.
“Each of the five tribes has a different history on the Trail of Tears with different experiences,” she said. “They each had a different experience. A lot of people think that everyone picked up and came here, but it was really a process over a 10-year period. Really, it was longer if you include some of the voluntary removal policies that started around 1800. So it was a process of several decades and several migrations. There were 13 different Cherokee detachments, and each had their own experience.”
Before visiting the Park Hill area on July 17, the teachers took a bus to the Fort Smith (Ark.) Historical Site, the Sequoyah Cabin in Sallisaw and the Drennen-Scott house in Van Buren, Ark.
WASHINGTON – On July 10, as part of the White House’s Generation Indigenous Native Youth Challenge, the Cherokee Nation’s 17-member Tribal Youth Council asked CN citizen and U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., to accept the Cherokee Language 2020 Challenge.
The challenge asks members of their communities to sign a commitment to use simple Cherokee phrases every day for the next five years.
“When they presented me with the challenge I thought ‘absolutely,’ but the lady that presented me with the challenge, I told her that if I’m going to sign the challenge, she has to make an appointment with me, at least a couple times a year and spend 15 minutes with me helping teach me the language again,” Mullin said.
Mullin said while growing up in Westville, Oklahoma, he remembered an initiative the school started where they took time to teach the students some of the Cherokee language. But because he has gotten away from the language, he remember only some of it.
“I can still understand it sometimes if I understand the topic that they are talking about,” he said. “We have to make sure that the history, which is part of the language, in fact all languages not just Cherokee, but other Native American languages, that it doesn’t get lost.”
The Generation Indigenous Native Youth Challenge invites Native youth and organizations across the country to become a part of the Administration’s Generation Indigenous, or Gen-I, initiative by joining the National Native Youth Network, which is a White House effort in partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth and the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“It’s important that we have a voice on the national level because for too long we didn’t have that opportunity. Our culture is unique to us, so it’s important that we’re able to voice our concerns on the things that impact us as Native youth,” Tribal Youth Council President Ashlee Fox said. “Without our language, we lose important aspects of our culture. It’s necessary that young Cherokees have access to tools to learn our language because they’re our next generation of leaders and ambassadors to the world.”
President Barack Obama launched the Gen-I Initiative to focus on improving the lives of Native youth by removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed. Through new investments and increased engagement, this initiative takes a comprehensive, culturally appropriate approach to ensure all young Native people can reach their full potential.
“It was a huge honor to have met the man that represents out great state of Oklahoma, Mr. Markwayne Mullin,” Bradley Fields, Tribal Youth Council chaplain, said. “He really encouraged me to go above and beyond the goals I have already set for myself. It was great that he accepted our challenge as well because it's just another step toward keeping the Cherokee language going for years to come.”
According to the White House website, other organizations who have accepted the Gen-I Native Youth Challenge include the American Indian College Fund, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Boys and Girls Club of America, Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute, Close Up Foundation, National Congress of American Indians, National Indian Child Welfare Association, National Indian Education Association, National Indian Health Board and the United National Indian Tribal Youth.